© Château-Figeac| Former owner Thierry Manoncourt was a strong advocate for Figeac's place at the top but sadly never got to see it.
France's national appellations body, the INAO, released the long-awaited 2022 Saint-Émilion classification yesterday, promoting the much-loved Château Figeac to Premier Grand Cru Classé A status.
The INAO (l'Institut National des Appellations d'Origine et de la Qualité) published the new classification amid little noise, establishing 14 Premiers Grands Crus Classés, of which two estates – Figeac and Pavie – claim the top spot of Premiers Grands Crus Classé A (there were four As in the 2012 iteration of the classification).
The remaining estates classed simply as Grands Crus Classés number 71, up from 64 in 2012.
Other than Figeac's promotion, there were few shocks in the rankings. As expected (and as had been widely reported in the last 14 months), Châteaux Angélus, Ausone, Cheval Blanc (all three formerly Premiers Grands Crus Classés A) and La Gaffelière (a Premier Grand Cru Classé) were absent, by their own volition, from the top rung.
Ausone and Cheval Blanc had announced their withdrawal (alongside stablemates Château Quinaut l'Enclos and La Clotte) in July 2021 while Angélus had walked in January this year. Château La Gaffelière had dropped out at the last minute in June, prompting speculation the estate had been earmarked for demotion.
Perhaps responding to criticism by the departing estates that the classification process had moved away from the fundamental qualities of the wines produced by the estates themselves, Jean-François Galhaud, the President of the Saint-Émilion wine council, underlined the importance of wine quality in the assessment.
"This [...] classification takes into account a multitude of details which, individually, contribute but very little, but the sum of which makes it possible to achieve an excellence that a classification must guarantee," said Galhaud in introducing the classification. "In the end, it's still the quality of the wine over time which marks the grandeur and the reputation of a vineyard."
More light was shed on the process with the percentage of marks for each estate broken down as follows:For a Premier Grand Cru Classé estate: 50 percent Tasting; 20 percent Profile (promotion/advancement, distribution, valuation); 20 percent Terroirs (land base, homogeneity, quality of terroir); and 10 percent Estate Management (viticulture and winemaking).For a Grand Cru Classé estate: 50 percent Tasting; 35 percent Profile (promotion/advancement, distribution, valuation); 10 percent Terroirs (land base, homogeneity, quality of terroir); and five percent Estate Management (viticulture and winemaking).
While Figeac will doubtless welcome the news of its promotion, its move to Premier Grand Cru Classé A follows decades of insistence on the part of former owner, the late Thierry Manoncourt, that the estate belonged on the top of the pile. Manoncourt, perhaps best-known as the man whose dog bit famed US wine critic Robert Parker, died in 2010, aged 92, with his wish of having Figeac recognized as a Grand Cru Classé A unfulfilled.
Other promotions to the list of Grands Crus Classés (not to be confused with the much broader Saint-Émilion Grand Cru title) in 2022 include Château Badette, Château Boutisse, Château Corbin Michotte, Château Croix de Labrie, Château Guadet, Château La Confession, Château La Croizille, Château Mangot, Château Montlabert, Château Montlisse, Château Rol Valentin, Château Tour Baladoz, Château Tour Saint Christophe, Clos Badon Thunevin, Clos Dubreuil, Clos Saint-Julien and Lassegue.
Some, such as Corbin Michotte, were dropped from the rankings in 2012 only to reappear this time around. Indeed, Corbin Michotte was one of three estates who famously took the Saint-Émilion classification process (via the INAO and the regional wine council) to court over the demotion.
Demotions include Château L’Arrosée (bought buy Dillon/Château Quintus in 2013), Château Grand-Pontet (bought buy Dillon/Château Quintus in 2021), Faurie de Souchard, Les Grandes Murailles, Château Pavie-Decesse and Château Tertre Daugay (although this has since become Château Quintus through a change in ownership and was unlikely to have retained its position).
It is understood the likes of Les Grandes Murailles will now form part of Clos Fourtet as the owner of the latter, Matthieu Cuvelier, bought Les Grandes Murailles from the Reiffers family last year, while Château Pavie-Decesse has reportedly been subsumed into the Château Pavie holdings.
See the full list below:Premier Grand Cru Classé
Château BEAU-SEJOUR BECOT
Château BEAUSEJOUR HERITIERS DUFFAU LAGARROSSE
Château BELAIR MONANGE
Château CANON LA GAFFELIERE
Château FIGEAC (A)
Château LARCIS DUCASSE
Château PAVIE (A)
Château PAVIE MACQUIN
Château TROPLONG MONDOT